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Beyond Expectations: GR Yaris’ Minor Upgrade with Major Impact

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TEXT: 橋本洋平  PHOTO: 木村博道(KIMURA Hiromichi)/TOYOTA GAZOO Racing

  • The Toyota GR Yaris has evolved to the level of a full model change despite being called a minor change
  • The Toyota GR Yaris has evolved to the level of a full model change despite being called a minor change
  • The Toyota GR Yaris has evolved to the level of a full model change despite being called a minor change
  • The Toyota GR Yaris has evolved to the level of a full model change despite being called a minor change
  • The Toyota GR Yaris has evolved to the level of a full model change despite being called a minor change
  • The Toyota GR Yaris has evolved to the level of a full model change despite being called a minor change
  • The Toyota GR Yaris has evolved to the level of a full model change despite being called a minor change
  • The Toyota GR Yaris has evolved to the level of a full model change despite being called a minor change
  • The Toyota GR Yaris has evolved to the level of a full model change despite being called a minor change

The GR Yaris has undergone a stunning evolution

About three and a half years after its launch, the Toyota GR Yaris has undergone a minor change. GR calls this an evolutionary change, but the content is so diverse that it could be described as a full model change. Let us introduce you to it, including impressions.

The dashboard area with a focus on operability

The first point of evolution was a revamped dashboard area that transformed the car as if it were a different vehicle. The control panel and display were set at a 15-degree angle to the driver’s side. The power window switches were also pushed closer to the front so that they could be operated even when the full harness was fastened.

The driving position has been revised and visibility increased

In addition, the driving position has been lowered by 25 mm and the tilt and telescopic operating area of the steering wheel has been changed to match. Surprisingly, crash tests had to be redone, even though this was effectively a minor change. As a result, the cockpit, which had been designed to look like a practical car, now has a racing-like finish. The presence of 12.3-inch full-colour TFT gauges is also appreciated, as they lift the mood just by sitting in the car. Another benefit is that the room mirror has been shifted upwards to allow a better view of the left front.

The GR-DAT is now as responsive as the MT

The second major change is that the newly developed 8-speed AT called GAZOO Racing Direct Automatic Transmission (hereafter GR-DAT) can now also be selected. In addition to the use of a highly responsive linear solenoid and high heat-resistant wet friction material, the new AT also features cross-ratio gear ratios and improved software to achieve world-class gearshift speeds.

Big increase in both maximum output and maximum torque!

The third point is the engine. From the current maximum output of 200 kW (272 hp) at 6500 rpm and maximum torque of 370 Nm at 3000-4600 rpm, the evolutionary model has a maximum output of 224 kW (304 hp) at 6500 rpm and maximum torque of 400 Nm at 3250-4600 rpm. In circuit mode, anti-lag is also activated to improve response. It also removes the speed limiter and maximizes the output of the cooling fan.

The body rigidity has been increased and the 4WD mode selection has also been changed

In addition, the body has been upgraded from a single-point to a three-point front upper support. Spot hitting points have been increased by 10%, mainly in openings. More structural adhesives have also been used. The shocks, springs, and front stabilizers have also been changed. In addition, the 4WD mode selector was also changed. The current model has 60:40 NORMAL, 30:70 SPORT, and 50:50 TRACK; the evolutionary model has 60:40 NORMAL, 53:47 GRAVEL, and variable TRACK from 60:40 to 30:70.

We could sense its evolution not only on the track but also on the gravel

The first thing you feel when you start driving is the high-quality feel. The steering information has become richer, and the driver can now feel a solid reaction force from even the smallest steering angle. The front roll speed has also slowed down and the process has changed in a way that is easy to understand.

On the other hand, the rear stability is also quite high. As it was wet on the day of the test drive, we dared to slide the rear with the turning brake, and the start of the flow at that time was also considerably calmer and more controllable. The suspension is also full of a sense of proper stroke, and I expect that this will eliminate the sticking up on the street. The overall feel is milder than before, and a little more GR Corolla-esque. However, it has not become more wimpy.

The engine has better pick-up and extension, and the TRACK mode with variable torque distribution gives the car a good bending sensation. However, when pushing the car into a corner, the engine did bend a little too much, and I felt that driving in GRAVEL mode gave a more linear feel that made it easier to anticipate the road ahead. We couldn’t confirm this on a dry surface, so we can’t say for sure, but the TRACK mode seems to be useful when driving solely within the grip.

GR-DAT with a pleasant feeling

The GR-DAT model has an uninterrupted drive and the feeling of repeated small steps due to the cross-ratio is very pleasant. When shifting up, the driver is also given the sensation of being pushed forward with a clunk, as if he or she were experiencing a dog transmission or a two-wheel quick-shifter in the extreme. The weight may be 20 kg heavier, but such negatives disappear at once with the fun factor.

We also tried the GR-DAT in the dirt, and in an environment where downshifts and side turns are combined, it was rather easier to control the vehicle than a manual transmission. This makes me think that I might give it a try in rallying. We hope that the GR Corolla will also be available. As you can see, the evolutionary model is attractive in every way. Users of the earlier model may want to consider replacing it.

translated by DeepL

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